Category Archives: Labour History

How a Belfast Immigrant to Canada Came to Testify Before the Undercover Policing Inquiry in the UK

Bryan D. Palmer In the summer of 1955, Ernest (Ernie) Tate, a young immigrant from Belfast, wandered into the “Toronto Labour Bookstore” on Yonge Street north of Wellesley. The proprietor of the bookshop was Ross Dowson, a founder of the small Canadian Trotskyist movement. It espoused the ideas of Marx and Lenin, but was critical of the Soviet Union and… Read more »

I Think It’s Time For Us to Give Up Hope

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The comments here were first shared during the Canadian Historical Association’s second of three panels responding to the “Precarious Historical Instructors’ Manifesto” entitled, “Precarious Historians, Trade Unions, and the Neoliberal University.” Along with Godefroy Desrosiers-Lauzon, Peter McInnis, Christine Gauthier, Catherine Larochelle, and Janis Thiessen, Jeremy Milloy discussed his insights on precarious academic work and working-class organizing. What follows is an… Read more »

Georgina Whetsel: Black Entrepreneur and Innovator

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Roger P. Nason It is just over a century since the death of one of New Brunswick’s pioneering Black women entrepreneurs. For a woman who garnered a reputation for her business savvy in Saint John, across New Brunswick, and in the United States, Georgina (née Mingo) Whetsel Moore’s death in 1919 in Bedford, Nova Scotia (NS) went largely unnoticed.[1] Her… Read more »

Here We Come A-Picketing! Christmas Carols, Class Conflict, and the Eaton’s Strike, 1984-85

(This post by Sean Carleton and Julia Smith was originally published on 18 December 2014) By mid-December, the holiday shopping season is usually in full swing for Canadian retailers. Thirty years ago, however, several Eaton’s department stores in southern Ontario were experiencing a different type of holiday hustle and bustle: Eaton’s workers were on strike. Hoping that unionization would improve… Read more »

Remember/Resist/Redraw #26: 1995 Calgary Workers Laundry Strike

Earlier this month, the Graphic History Collective released RRR #26 to mark the 25th anniversary of the 1995 Calgary Laundry Workers Strike. The poster by Mary Joyce and Alvin Finkel outlines the importance of rank-and-file militancy, much of it by immigrant women of colour, in the fight against austerity and privatization in places like Alberta. This poster is particularly pertinent… Read more »

On Grieving the Finnish Labour Temple and the Promise of the Community Hall

Samira Saramo The news crashed down on me like a tonne of red bricks: the Finnish Labour Temple had been sold. Since 1910, the Labour Temple in Thunder Bay, Ontario, has stood as the grandest symbol of Finnish immigrant presence in Canada. With its iconic cupola, it is also a beacon of Thunder Bay and the heart of the bustling… Read more »

What’s the Beef with COVID-19?

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By Catherine Carstairs and Philip Rich As restaurants across the country closed in March to prevent the spread of COVID-19, fast-food chains stayed open. In the first quarter of 2020, McDonald’s Corp global sales decreased by only 3.4%. This is remarkable given that McDonald’s had to close over 300 stores in China as well as restaurants in France, Italy, Spain and the… Read more »

Stand! Show and Tell (and Sing)

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David Frank The catalogue of labour history films in Canada is a small one. There is a very good body of work in the documentary tradition, but you will not need a long weekend to screen all of the dramatic films related to this country’s labour and working-class history.[1] To this shelf, we can now add a new film based… Read more »

Staging History

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By Craig Heron Historians have become increasingly attuned to the role of performance in history. Many of us have written about the pomp and pageantry of the powerful, the theatre of the high courts, the processions of urban respectability, the rituals of resistance among the poor and powerless. We have been much more reticent, however, about using theatre to present… Read more »

Leonard Sorta Dipped? Free Agency, Past and Present

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Edward Dunsworth Next Tuesday evening, when the Toronto Raptors host the New Orleans Pelicans to kick off the 2019-20 season of the National Basketball Association (NBA), it will be a night unlike any other. The Raptors, for the first time in their 25-year history, begin the campaign as defending champions. There will, of course, be a highly conspicuous absence as… Read more »